World Food Programme not only about food aid, it's so much more

A farmer in a refugee camp in Turkana County checks on crops grown through WFP's H2Grow hydroponics initiative. [William Orlale, WFP]

The World Food Programme (WFP), the world's largest humanitarian organization tasked with saving lives through food aid, is taking a new approach to addressing food insecurity.

While the WFP has long provided emergency food support to people recovering from disaster, conflict, and the impacts of negative climate change, it is now focusing on broader initiatives to build resilience and empower communities.

As part of its commitment to ending hunger, achieving food security, and improving nutrition by the year 2030, the WFP has undertaken new initiatives that are more strategic and policy-oriented.

It is using innovation centres as vehicles to scale all their operations and connect food-insecure youth to the global digital economy, facilitating them to build viable careers and more promising livelihoods.

The organization is also working with communities to improve nutrition and build resilience, while delivering emergency food support.

Lauren Landis, the WFP's Country Director & Representative to Kenya, spoke to The Standard on February 7, 2023, about the organization's new country-specific plan.

The plan has two goals: saving lives affected by drought and changing lives. Landis emphasized the WFP's mission to create better lives for Kenyans, particularly by working closely with county governments and small-scale farmers.

In Kenya, the WFP is looking at 4.4 million livelihoods affected by food insecurity due to drought, including about a million children.

The organization is working closely with the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) to understand different situations and use a rating system to determine the most affected and vulnerable populations.

In addition to relief, the WFP has been providing beneficiaries with a cash-based transfer of about Sh6,500 per month for each household.

A woman from Kenya redeeming cash using mobile money cash top-up cards, an innovative solution developed by WFP Kenya Country Office as a cash transfer mechanism for emergency response programmes. [Martin Karimi, WFP]

The WFP is not only interested in saving lives but changing them, by providing sustainable solutions that empower communities.

As Landis explained, "We are seeing their interest in looking at drought resistance seeds, in new ways of doing climate adaptive agriculture and looking at how to use water resources better. Where my hope comes from is in the area of resilience, what we are doing with about 690,000 people is trying to see new ways to build and diversify livelihoods."

WFP Kenya Country Director - Lauren Landis and KTN News's Jesse Rogers

The WFP's Head of Innovation, Federico Naccarato, emphasised the need to find innovative solutions to amplify impact and reach more people with the same resources.

He explained that the organization uses processes and methodologies commonly used in the startup world, such as design thinking, co-creation, and the application of lean methodology, to minimize the use of resources when implementing projects and put the user at the center of any program.

Kenya is known to be the Silicon Savannah of the region, and to tap into this, WFP in partnership with KSG, KENIA and UNDP has set up innovation centers in Kenya's ASAL region. This, according to Federico is to direct innovation infrastructure towards issues like resilience building to amplify the impact of WFP's work.

Federico Naccarato - WFP Head of Innovation

Another example of the WFP's innovative approach is the use of hydroponics, a project aimed at including more healthy and nutritious diets for beneficiaries in areas where fresh foods cannot be grown or there is a lack in the supply chain. Also, the growing of animal fodder in arid areas which uses up to 95 per cent less water and up to 70 per cent less land compared to traditional methods.

In addition to these initiatives, the WFP runs hi-tech projects that help inform small-scale farmers of how they can optimize resources. In Kibera, the organization runs a project named EMPACT that connects food-insecure youth to the global digital economy, enabling them to build viable careers and better livelihoods.

WFP's approach to empowering communities using innovative and sustainable solutions has proven to be effective in achieving its mission. Additionally, partnering with stakeholders from both national and county governments, as well as the private sector, has been crucial in helping WFP succeed in its efforts.

By working together and utilizing innovative approaches, WFP is making significant strides towards ending hunger, achieving food security, and improving nutrition for vulnerable populations.

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